Thursday, July 4, 2019

Reader Spotlight: Linda Mitchell + DMC Challenge


Linda Mitchell is a school librarian in a public middle school in Northern Virginia. She plans lessons, teaches, and makes sure books and reading material are available to the students and adults in her community. She also enjoys presenting at librarian conferences, discussing best practices with colleagues, swapping teaching ideas, and chatting about great reading. Outside of work, Linda spends most of her time taking care of her family—her husband, four high school and college aged children, a dog and a cat. One of the things she loves most is sitting around the kitchen table with all of them, eating something delicious and talking.

Linda is exhaustively curious. Her superpower is identifying feelings. A natural born networker, she is passionate about learning, sharing information, and making connections. She is also passionate about travel—going anywhere in the world with hiking shoes, a backpack, and a water bottle. She traveled a lot before children, and then, by way of international adoption, travel became a part of building her family. She loves writing about relationships and often starts out with a question. She also enjoys taking photos of words in places that she travels to and arranging snippets of the words into little poems.

When asked to recommend a book everyone should read, Linda responded that she has literally thousands of books that she could recommend, but she believes that any book that makes a person forget to stop reading for a while is the book every person should read. Browse Linda's featured poetry at Today's Little Ditty HERE or read much more of her work at her blog A Word Edgewise. She was a joy to interview and the perfect subject for our debut reader spotlight!

Courtesy Linda Mitchell
Linda's five favorites:

Favorite word:

Favorite color:

Favorite food:

Favorite sound:
          laughing children

Favorite vacation spot:
My uncle and aunt’s “land” where there is a cabin, pond and family memories. Every time I visit, I walk to the old campfire ring to visit my favorite ghosts.

What is poetry?

Poetry is life represented in words.

How did you come to poetry?

I think the first poem I wrote was in about fourth grade or so…after Mrs. Simon asked my class to find and copy poems into a collection. I loved writing the poems with my newly acquired cursive writing skill. After that I wrote poems about God. My parents were intrigued. When I was about thirteen I attended a poetry workshop at my tiny rural library. I remember the poet leading the workshop responded to my efforts with comment about me being a “tired old soul.” I would have loved studying more poetry as a child. This is what pleases me about Naomi Shihab Nye’s mission as Young People’s Poet Laureate—to take poetry to young people in rural areas.

Why do you write?

I feel good when I’m writing. I enjoy sharing my writing and trying to make it better. I enjoy being part of the Poetry Friday community of writers.

Describe three of your writing habits.

I write in the early mornings before the rest of my family is awake. On school days, I write from about 6-7 am. On weekends I write from about 6-9. In the summer, when I don’t have to get up for school, I like to write late at night too.

I meet with my online critique group every other week. They help me keep writing.

In the past several months I’ve been “paper crafting.” I make collages with different papers as a means of "creative cross-training." Somehow, the paper crafting helps my writing. I think it has to do with layering. It's also super fun and helps me create without overthinking what I'm doing.

Paper crafting images © Linda Mitchell

Other than Today's Little Ditty, where do you find your inspiration?

The Poem Farm, No Water River, The Opposite of Indifference, Laura Purdie Salas' 15 word challenge, and lots of verse novels.

What is the best advice you've ever gotten?

Trust the process. I tend to want to micromanage…even my own creative process. Whenever I remember to trust the process, things go smoother.

What is the best advice you can give?

Write every day that you can. If you cannot write, read. If you cannot write or read because of life events, don’t beat yourself up over it. Just start up again when you can.

What have you chosen as this month's ditty challenge?

Create a "found haiku."

Find an interesting article on a topic that fascinates you. As you read the article highlight phrases with the right syllable counts for traditional haiku (5-7-5). It’s true that haiku is not strictly 5-7-5. However, for this exercise, keep to the “rule.” Once you have found several phrases, place them into the form of a haiku. I’ve shared several of these on my blog A Word Edgewise. (See examples here, here, and here.)

What do you say, writers? This sounds like fun! The only thing I might add to Linda's instructions is don't forget to give credit to the article where you "find" your haiku.

For reader spotlights, I won't be sending you to an external link to post your poem. I've embedded the padlet below. Add your poem(s) at any point during the month, or scroll through to check out what others are contributing.


By posting on the padlet, you are also granting me permission to feature your poem on Today's Little Ditty.  I'm not sure how often I'll be featuring poems from reader challenges, but I want to keep my options open. :)

If you have not participated in a challenge before, please send me an email at TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com so that I can contact you, if necessary.

In the lower right corner of the padlet you'll see a pink dot with a plus sign. Click on it to open a text box. I find it works best to type your title on the title line and paste the rest of your poem where it says "Write something...". Single click outside the text box when finished. This board is moderated to prevent spam. Once your poem is approved, it will appear publicly.

Remember to include your name as author of any work that you post!

TEACHERS, it's great when students get involved! Ditty of the Month Club challenges are wonderful opportunities to learn about working poets and authors while having fun with poetry prompts. Thank you for spreading the word! For children under 13, please read my COPPA compliance statement in the sidebar to the right.

BLOGGERS, thank you for publishing your poems on your own blogs–I love that! Please let me know about it so I can share your post. Also remember to include your poem (or a direct link to your post) on the padlet.

If you prefer to open this padlet in a new tab, click HERE.

Made with Padlet

Thinking of Linda Mitchell, words that come to mind are creative, supportive, innovative, enthusiastic, and on-the-ball.  Turns out she's also brave! It takes guts to be the first reader spotlight, and I hope that you'll join me in thanking her for sharing herself with us today!

If you would like to be featured in a future reader spotlight, I invite you to complete this form.

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Thanks once again to everyone who participated in last month's DMC challenge from Karen Boss! If you missed our collection of advice poems for children, you'll find it HERE. has determined that the winner of a copy of I AM SOMEONE ELSE: POEMS ABOUT PRETENDING, collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Chris Hsu will go to . . .

Congratulations, Angelique!

Patricia Stohr-Hunt shares a wonderful triolet inspired by the memory of her grandmother and a letter she wrote during WWII. Please join her for this week's Poetry Friday roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect.


  1. What fun this will be, Linda & Michelle. I read lots of articles, so one challenge will be which one to use! I love the interview, learning more about Linda's world, filled with energy for life! Thanks for a great start to July!

  2. Hi Linda, it's so great to learn more about you. I really like your paper-crafting. I've been meaning to try a poem collage. I will keep my eyes out for a found haiku!

  3. Oh, my! This challenge sounds like fun. I wonder what I can find. Linda, I have never thought about paper crafting. The crafting I've tried leads me to think that I'm all thumbs. Nice to get to know you better, as I usually agree with the comments you make on blogs elsewhere. :) Thanks for hosting, Michelle!

  4. So nice to get to know Linda better--Thanks for the great interview, Michelle, and for the fun challenge, Linda.

  5. Another wonderful interview and a fun challenge! I'm already considering what articles I might dig into. I'm so glad you shared some more of Linda's wonderful paper-crafting along with her responses. What a great start to your reader spotlight series!

  6. Thanks for this interview. It's wonderful to get to know Linda a bit better. What a challenge! I tend to read mostly political articles so I will have to see how this goes!

  7. I had fun peeking into your earlier life Linda, and hearing more about you, and your writing–and yes you are brave! Sounds like a great challenge. Thanks Michelle for sharing more Linda with us!

  8. I've had the privilege of getting to know Linda through our online writing group. She is a dear friend and such a kind and thoughtful critique partner. This is a great first "reader" challenge. Thanks for doing this new form of Ditty Challenge. Such fun!

  9. Linda, I could always tell I would like you IRL but this interview confirms it. :) Am looking forward to this challenge!

  10. I loved the interview, Linda! You really are an inspiration!

  11. Michelle, I think your new idea for TLD is just special. I did not forget to send you my thoughts - just had no time yet. Linda, your interview pushed you into a brave new world as the first TLD Reader in the Spotlight! Good for you. I even found a post that I did not read of yours. It is so good to see your accomplishments in print. Michelle and Linda, the new challenge is one that I will really enjoy since I am starting my grad school ELA Summer Institute for teachers. I have several articles for them to read and I shall find one to create my own found haiku.

  12. Yay, Linda! Wonderful interview and interesting new ditty challenge. I really like your paper crafts, too. =)

  13. Love seeing you in your happy place! I am working on a found haiku -- fun challenge!

  14. Hurray! I loved reading even more from Linda in this fantabulous interview! I am in awe of your writing and paper crafting. I love the challenge.

  15. Wonderful interview! Linda, your craftiness always amazes and inspires me, and found poem challenges are right up my alley. Now I can't wait to tackle the pile of old newspapers waiting to be sorted through!

  16. How lovely to learn a bit more about our Linda! I look forward to digging in to her challenge. Thank you Michelle and Linda!

  17. Thank you all for the kind comments above and Michelle for giving me a chance to talk poetry here. I adore the Poetry Friday community. I have learned so much from all of you and feel fortunate to get to practice writing with everyone via TLD and other Poetry Friday blogs. I'm a lucky girl for sure.

  18. Michelle, thanks for helping us get to know Linda better, and Linda, thanks for a great challenge!

  19. What a fun start to the Reader Spotlights--one of my criti*ue group partners and my sneakily creative and encouraging friend Linda! Every time I think I know what she's like, I get another surprise glimpse into her past, her passions, her vision! Also, she is a VERY HARD WORKER, which counts for a lot. Hmmmm a found haiku....on it!

  20. Lovely to get to know you through this interview, Linda! What an interesting challenge too. Time to start digging around...

  21. O good green glorious Earth! This article on creative, caring & consummately teaching at the top level, librarian/author/loving Mom Linda is such a beautiful gift to the your community Michelle. She has connected her students with so many imaginative & lively authors. I love every bit of this visit with her as much as I love Linda, who I ate with & wrote with & laughed with at a transformative Highlights Workshop. She was so immediately warm & funny & creative, asking intriguing questions & working from light of morn into dark of night.

    It will be so cool to learn more about other readers, too, but Linda sets a high standard with A WORD EDGEWISE, her other creative activities, her world culture view & her world-traveling back story.

    If I don't return with a haiku for this clever prompt by the end of the month, it's only because a lot of summer living is happening with my hubby & our family & it's also a reduced screen time (although not an away from writing time.... can you hear the rustling of paper?)

    Happy summer dear Michelle & dear Linda!